Sweet Pitcher Plants
Pitcher plants use a passive method in catching their prey. Their tube like leaves form pitchers that hold water and digestive fluids. The Sweet Pitcher Plant is the only Sarracenia that does not have a hood over the top of the pitcher. Sweet pitchers are native to bogs of the eastern United States and Southern Canada.
Sweet Pitcher Plants
In the spring new leaves begin to grow, and out of the center of the plant an unusual flower will develop. As the leaves mature they will develop a striking venation pattern, or become completely red or maroon color. This color, along with the attractant produced by the leaves, enables the pitcher to lure its prey. Insects arrive to “taste” the nectar, only to find themselves slipping to a liquidly death below. Now the weary insect has become dinner for our sweet pitcher plant.
How to keep your Pitcher Plant healthy!
Location: Humidity is a very important consideration when selecting a location. Lack of humidity will cause marginal burning of the leaves. A terrarium environment is best. Select an area that has bright indirect light. Morning sun is generally acceptable, but watch the inside temperature of the terrarium, so not to exceed 88°F.
Watering: Pitcher plants should not be allowed completely dry out! For best results use distilled water or rain water. Tap water with low salt content is acceptable. This is a plant you cannot over water.
Feeding: Sweet Pitchers feed on ants, beetles, crickets, wasps, flies, moths and occasionally small toads. Feed with smaller insects weekly , larger insects every two weeks. Fertilizing with a 20-20-20 1/4 strength solution once a month is recommend where insects are in short supply. For those of you with orchids, you can also use your Pro Blend Orchid Food for convenience, again at 1/4 strength.
Transplanting: You can transplant your Sarracenia with sphagnum moss, with a layer of perlite or gravel at the bottom of terrarium or pot. You can grow in peat moss and sand. You should transplant every two years. You can transplant any time of the year, but just before spring is the optimum time.
Dormancy: Sarracenia’s need to go dormant in the winter months. Under normal lighting conditions, you will see leaves start to dry up in October /November. This is normal. Do not force your pitcher plant to grow. It will make new leaves in the spring.
How it Works: The pitcher itself is broken down into five zones. The first is the attractive zone which contains the glands that produce the insect attractant. Around these glands, there are stiff hairs that point in a downward direction to send the insect towards the bottom of the pitcher. Zone two is a transitional zone. The third zone is where the walls inside the pitcher become very slippery with a special wax coating. Zone four, called the Detentive and Absorptive zone, is similar to zone three, but has hairs again pointing downward to prevent any escape and is partially in the liquid. The final zone (5) is completely filled with digestive enzymes and other bacteria to completely digest the insect.